Coronavirus: Iowa State Fair nixed amid pandemic, marking its 1st cancellation since World War II

DES MOINES, Iowa — Yet another iconic event has been canceled amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Des Moines Register, organizers of the annual Iowa State Fair, which debuted in 1854, announced Wednesday that they were scrapping plans for this year's event, originally set for Aug. 13-23. The next fair will be held Aug. 12-22, 2021.

"The Iowa State Fair's top priority is protecting the health and safety of fairgoers, staff, volunteers, exhibitors and entertainers," Gary Slater, the fair's CEO and manager, said in a statement on the event's website. "Amid the pandemic, we couldn't, in good conscience, put on the fair when we knew access to emergency safety services at the fair could be limited, public transportation to and from the fair would not be possible, the constant sanitization of a seemingly infinite amount of high-touch surfaces lacked feasibility, and social distancing in lines to get your favorite fair food or walking the Grand Concourse would be difficult."

The move marks only the sixth time that officials have canceled the massive event, which didn't take place during 1942-1945 because of World War II and wasn't held in 1898 because of the World's Fair in Omaha, the Register reported.

A 2019 audit said the fair brought in more than $29.5 million in revenue in 2018, according to WeAreIowa.com. The event drew more than 1.1 million guests that year, the fair said on its website.

As of early Thursday, Iowa had reported at least 22,626 confirmed coronavirus cases and 631 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 13,600 people there have recovered from the virus, the university reported.

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